Why You Need a Plan B When You Love an Addict or Alcoholic
Why You Need a Plan B When You Love an Addict or Alcoholic
Have you ever found yourself wondering if you should stay with your partner suffering from addiction? Or leave them? Maybe you’re thinking: I don’t have to worry about that because I’m staying. Regardless of whether you think you are going to stay or know you are going to leave or have no idea, developing a plan B will help you.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Read the transcript and find more details here:
Perhaps you’re convinced that staying in your relationship long-term is what’s best for you. Or maybe you don’t have an option to leave right now because you can’t afford it. Or maybe you’re still in love with them, and you don’t want to leave. That’s cool and I totally respect that. I never want to be that friend to you that says, why aren’t you leaving?
I got that from friends and family when I was married to an addict, and it was super annoying. Leaving is hard. And if leaving was easy, everyone would just leave their relationship. But there are a thousand reasons why I’m not leaving right now. Eventually, I did end up leaving, but it was still hard. So if you’re in the position where you want to stay for whatever reason, no judgment here.
I absolutely respect your choice. But I’m going to ask you to do something for me. I’m going to ask you to do some homework, okay? Because we all know that if we want to get better and want to heal and want to feel empowered and want to feel good, that’s going to take work.
That’s not going to just come naturally. It won’t come without actually diving into some deep stuff. So this is your homework.
Your homework is to come up with a plan B for leaving.
I know you feel tricked right now, don’t you? Cause I just told you, I’m not going to tell you to leave. I get it. Hear me out.
So I have a friend, and she is a wonderful friend. She is married, and she’s been married for a while. We were walking just this morning around our neighborhood, and she told me, I’m not in love with them.
And I said, have you ever considered the idea of leaving him? She said, I have, but I don’t even know where I’d begin. And my other friend who was with us said, you know what? You need to come up with a plan B. Even if you don’t execute it, it will make you feel empowered and good that you have the plan.
It’s just peace of mind knowing that if you needed to leave or if you wanted to go, you could do it at any moment’s notice.
And I think I’ve mentioned it before to you. I mention this actually in great detail in the Stay or Go program: you guys need a plan B.
So what does that look like?
It looks like if you were to leave, where would you live? It means you grab your keys and purse, get in the car, drive around neighborhoods, and start looking at homes and neighborhoods that you would consider living in. Or going online and looking at where it is that you would like to go or travel to. It means thinking about your money and getting familiar with your finances. And asking yourself, if I were to plan on leaving, how could I afford to go?
It means having difficult, vulnerable conversations with maybe one or two friends or family members and saying, look, I’m staying. For whatever reason I’m staying, but if I were to leave, would you have my back? Would you mind helping me in this area? Would you help me move out, or would you give me a place to stay, or would you consider financially supporting me for a temporary period?
It means if you have kids, you ask, are they in the school that they need to be in? Or is there a school out there that’s better for them that I would make happen if I were to leave?
And it’s also asking yourself for the first time in a long time: what do you want?
What do you want now? Whatever your age is, ask yourself, what do you want the next half of your life to be? What do you want it to look like?
So much of our energy goes into wanting them to get sober. Forget that; forget it. Just forget them temporarily and say, what do I want? Where do I want to go on vacation? What do I want to do with my life? Maybe it means you sit there and you say, I’m planning on staying, but if I ever had to leave, I know that I need to be financially independent. And my dream job is to be a teacher. So I’m going to enroll in college and try and get my degree so that if I ever need to, I can go back to teaching. Or maybe you start going back to teaching whether you leave or stay.
But plan B is important. Particularly when you’re in a relationship with addiction because addiction is so unpredictable, and it feels like a roller coaster ride.
Some days you feel steady and on a solid foundation and solid ground. Other days it feels like the rug got ripped out from underneath you, you experienced an earthquake, and the foundation is in shambles, right?
And it’s crazy that it can feel that extreme. There’s not a lot of gray areas in addiction. It makes you feel like you’re going crazy, and everyone might think you’re going crazy. You’re not; that’s just the actual reality of this disease, but it is unpredictable. And so having a plan B is very powerful. You get a plan B by getting knowledge, by researching, by asking yourself questions and digging into your finances and digging into your dreams and digging into your living situation and what your support group would be.
And then guess what happens when you get that knowledge? You start to feel in control.
Isn’t that crazy? Knowledge equals control. And I know many self-help books and communities talk about letting go of control. We’re very different in this community. And this is another way we’re very different.
I say BS to that. Absolutely BS. When you’re living with or when you’re married to somebody with addiction, that means addiction is running your house and your family. How the heck does that feel? How is that healthy?
You can’t control your partner, but you sure as heck can get the knowledge to control your choices. You sure as heck can control your feelings and empower yourself.
So get the knowledge of what plan B would practically look like and write it down.
If you can’t keep a notebook because you’re worried that your partner will find it and flip out, get Evernote. It’s a free app, and you can lock it with a password on your phone. But write it down; get practical. And that way, you know that you are empowered, and you always have a plan B in your pocket, even if you never use it, even if you stay with them for the rest of your life.
But at least you know that you have choices and options because you’ve been responsible and you’ve explored them. And that’s the final thought of this podcast today. It is a responsible thing to develop a plan B, particularly if you have dependents. It is a self-respecting, responsible thing.
Do not feel guilty for going around behind their back, developing a plan B.
You wouldn’t have to make a plan B if they were sober.
You had nothing to do with their problems with addiction; it’s not your fault. They came into this relationship, or we’re in the middle of this relationship and started their addiction.
It has nothing to do with you. You wouldn’t have to do this if they didn’t bring in this problem. So don’t feel guilty. This is you protecting you. This is you being a responsible human being. That is plan B.
If you are in our programs and you’re in our secret Facebook group, please share your plan B. If you share it with a group, studies show that you are more accountable, and you follow through with things. So I would love to read your plan Bs. And if you are not in our secret Facebook group, here’s what I’m going to say to you: I love you. If you choose to join our programs or not, I’m still gonna love you. And I’m still going to give you this podcast for free.
But if finances are the reason you are not getting detailed, in-depth help, then two things. One is we have a Buy One, Give One program. So for every woman that buys a program, we give one away for free. So if you don’t have the money, I don’t want you to be unable to get the help that you need. You can join our programs still. You deserve help, no matter what your income is.
Number two, if you’re not joining our program, because you feel guilty or because you’re worried about what they’re going to say, or because they feel like their drinking is not that big of a deal, I say that is a shame and a lie, and you should not fall for that.
You get into our program. You let us love on you.
Let us give you friendships, help, and support that you need because you cannot do this alone. Even if you’re not a group joiner, that’s fine. Let me help you. Let me be the voice in your head that teaches you and tells you that you can do all things. That you are worthy of happiness, joy, and freedom, and a great freaking life is waiting for you if you just grab the tools that you need.
I am going to be your biggest advocate and your loudest voice. And my job is to sit here and tell you, you absolutely deserve help. Absolutely. You need help. And if you’re not getting it from our programs, no problem. Go make yourself an appointment with a therapist, join a group, do something because you don’t have to live the rest of your life feeling like this.
Imagine the rest of your life in such a wonderful, beautiful place. You can get unstuck, and it’s only gonna happen when you take the very courageous big step of recognizing that you might not have the tools right now to deal with this on your own. And it’s your job, and it’s your responsibility to get them and start a new beginning with or without your loved one. You can still feel great, even if they get sober or not.
Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.
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